awad Kassab, who leads the immigration and refugee program at Legal Aid Ontario, said the agency has identified an 'unusual' pattern in asylum claims based on sexual orientation claims filed by Nigerians this year. (Mark Bochsler)

Legal Aid Ontario, a non-profit legal agency, has expressed worry that Nigerian asylum seekers in Canada may be fabricating similar claims of sexual orientation persecution.

According to Canadian CBC News, 60-70 per cent of Nigerian asylum claims made since April cited persecution as a result of their sexual orientation.

Jawad Kassab, leader, refugee and immigration program at Legal Aid Ontario, said the agency has identified an unusual pattern in sexual orientation claims filed by Nigerian refugee seekers this year.

He said the agency has written to five lawyers who represent some of the cases, asking if they knew the reason for the similarities.

Kassab said he is concerned that if the claims are fabricated, it might thwart the chances of refugees with legitimate claims.

“It galls me because of the potential impact that it could have on the refugee system and the Canadian public’s perception of refugee claimants and refugees in a very vulnerable time globally,” Kassab said.

Nigeria’s anti-gay law was passed in 2014 during the administration of Former President Goodluck Jonathan.

A lawyer representing Nigerian refugees say that may explain the recent spike in the similarities.

“It’s almost like a war zone for homosexuals. You cannot expect people to put up with that, and they have to leave,” said Richard Odeleye, an immigration lawyer.

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